The state of Kentucky has a small but steadily growing immigrant community. While only 4 percent of the state’s population was born in another country, foreign-born residents remain a vital part of the labor force. You may be one of them and may be considering making the United States your permanent home. However, the immigration process is undoubtedly daunting and requires plenty of time and research to get it done right.
There’s an abundance of information on the Internet that can help, but there are also a lot of falsehood. The following are some of the most streamlined and effective tips on how to obtain a green card, with no false promises.
Basically, when people talk about getting a green card, they’re really trying to figure out the best way to stay and work legally in the country. They’re also looking for the fastest and least demanding route to follow. There are different sets of criteria and different visas or green cards for which individuals from diverse education and income levels can qualify. But, generally speaking, there is no specific category for those who are looking for lawful permanent residence in the U.S. Each person must fit within one of the categories prescribed by U.S. immigration law, and be sure to follow the procedures accordingly. Otherwise, things can soon become messy and costly. Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of filing properly, let’s quickly cover the most relevant categories.
Perhaps the “easiest” route is family-based immigration. However, this truly depends on whether you are an immediate relative or not; the process is much faster for spouses, children under 21 years of age, and parents of U.S. citizens. If your circumstances already fit within this category, then things become much easier for you, as the current immigration law makes you immediately eligible for an immigrant visa number, meaning you are on the easiest path to a green card. That being said, the applications are quite lengthy and can be a bit of a drag, so make sure you have done your homework properly.
You will definitely need the U.S. citizen – be they your spouse, or parents – to legally establish the relationship using the USCIS Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This application is then followed by the Form I-485 Adjustment of Status. If you want to save yourself some time and a prolonged headache, then you could most likely fill out both forms at the same time, but definitely check if you meet the guidelines to ensure that the application is approved.
Also, be aware of the fact that if you get married or turn 21, then this process changes and immigration law states that you will have to wait longer in order to get a green card through your American relatives.
Employment-Based Green Card
While getting a job with employers that would be willing to help you obtain the required work permits, visas, etc. is not an easy task in and of itself, once you get your foot in the door professionally speaking, the process becomes a bit smoother. This one ends up working quite similarly to the family-sponsored categories, and can be a fairly straightforward way of staying in the country permanently and legally.
However, you should note that obtaining an employment-based green card requires that you speak with your employer first and consult with professionals in this field. If you reside in Kentucky, you can reach out to a strong immigration lawyer in Lexington, KY to help you wade through all the paperwork – not to mention the potentially difficult conversations with the parties involved. In this case, the most crucial application to fill out is the USCIS Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
It’s also worth mentioning that this category is somewhat broad, so if you happen to be an investor, or have a particularly specialized job, then you could qualify for the green card a lot faster. The application to fill out, in this case, is the Form I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.
Diversity Visa Immigration
This one is a bit tricky, and you may have heard a little about it already. Essentially, U.S. immigration law makes 55,000 immigrant visas available for foreign nationals from countries that have low numbers of permanent residence applications to the United States. Similar to the lottery system, if you meet the educational requirements and do not have past criminal activity, then this could work quite well for you.
A Few Other Steps
Check Visa Availability
Once the correct petition has been filed, you can move along with the process. One of the next steps is to ensure that there are visas available to you. Even if you are already in the U.S., you need to ensure that you have the right visa before “upgrading” your status. The number of visas available varies by each immigrant category and by what country you are coming from. Immediate relatives of American citizens do not have to wait long since there is an unlimited number of visas in this category.
When it comes to relatives who are not considered immediate, or for individuals who are applying through employment, the visas are quite limited, and there will be a bit of a waiting game. You will be sent a priority date and put on a waiting list when the visa becomes available.
Prepare for the Interview
After you send through your application, USCIS may send you a notice informing you of an interview with an immigration officer. Nowadays, everyone seeking a green card will be required to complete the interview with an immigration officer, during which you will be asked to answer a few questions regarding your application.
Once you’ve completed all these steps, you should receive a final decision via the mail. The time it takes for you to hear back from the USCIS will vary tremendously depending on which category you’re a part of, and whether you’ve had an interview or not. If you’re approved, the next few steps will be a breeze, and you will be on your way to becoming a permanent legal resident in no time. Although, if your petition is denied, do not despair; you can appeal the decision and follow through the next phase of that process accordingly.